paper trail

Jhumpa Lahiri on writing for herself; Glenn Greenwald on diversity of opinion at the "Times"

Jhumpa Lahiri

Francesca Pellas talks to Jhumpa Lahiri about language learning, translation, and why it’s never a good idea to write with readers in mind. When Lahiri first started writing in Italian, she says other writers discouraged her from the project, saying that there would be no readers. But Lahiri said she was never worried about whether people needed her book or not. “I think that writing must also be a selfish act,” she said. “A book might reach out to someone else at some point, after years, or maybe never at all, but it is not up to me to write with this idea in mind. Writing is, above all, an internal dialogue.”

Jesmyn Ward tells the New York Times about her reading and writing habits. Ward says she has no interest in having anyone write her life story. “I did it in Men We Reaped,” she said, “and that was harrowing enough.”

Jessie Daniels looks at white supremacist websites and reflects on the 2003 Supreme Court decision that defined cross burning as unprotected speech, wondering “what constitutes a burning cross in the digital era?” Daniels focuses on Stormfront, which was recently shut down, and, a facade for a white supremacist forum created by Stormfront founder Don Black, that is still online. “The fact that Stormfront is offline but isn’t suggests that we aren’t very sophisticated yet in our thinking about what kinds of risks white supremacy poses,” he writes. “While Stormfront is an obvious, overt threat to people’s lives, the cloaked site is a more subtle and insidious threat to the underlying moral argument for civil rights. Both are dangers to democracy.”

At The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald writes that the New York Times’s decision to hire conservative columnist Bari Weiss as an op-ed contributor reveals the paper’s “understanding of ‘diversity,’ and the range of opinions it does, and does not, permit.” “For the contemporary NYT op-ed page,” he writes, “diversity spans the small gap from establishment centrist Democrats to establishment centrist Republicans, with the large groups of people outside of those factions essentially excluded.”

Ron Charles reflects on the recently announced all-female film remake of Lord of the Flies. David Siegel, who will be writing and directing the movie with Scott McGehee, said that the themes of “interpersonal conflicts and bullying” make the book “a timeless story.” “So, basically, ‘Mean Girls with pork,” writes Charles.